When it comes to the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle), the best place to start is at the beginning of the phrase. Reducing will impact the environment in a positive way far more than reusing or recycling, because the truth is that even items that get reused will eventually end up either in a recycling plant or in a landfill. Recycling items uses energy that doesn’t need to be used when reducing or reusing.
But since we need stuff, we need to find a way to use (or not use) stuff in a way that will cause the least harm to the earth. Here are 5 ways you can reduce, reuse, and recycle with your kids.
Grocery and produce bags
Instead of using paper or plastic grocery bags, bring your own reusable fabric bags. Although paper and plastic bags can be recycled, it takes more energy to recycle them than it does to reuse a fabric bag over and over. These bags can go in your washing machine and dryer, so you can even put eggs and packages of meat in them without worrying about cross-contamination.
You can also replace plastic produce bags with fabric produce bags. I’ve reused my Earthwise bags for years.
Give your child a small fabric bag that they can use at the store. Not only will they learn from your actions, but they’ll also participate in helping the environment.
At home, use cloth napkins instead of paper ones that have to be thrown away after one use. Buy medium to dark colors for messy eaters. These can go in the washing machine and dryer with the reusable grocery bags.
Restaurant containers for leftovers
If you often have leftovers when you go out to eat, bring a reusable food storage container with you. Most boxes the restaurants will give you are not even recyclable. If your child is old enough, have them put their own leftovers into a container so they can learn the habit.
Snack packs and juice boxes
Reduce your kids’ use of snack packs and juice boxes because the wrappers and boxes have to go straight into the trash. Instead, pack snacks into reusable containers, and buy small, reusable bottles for juice on the go.
Your kids will have fun watching kitchen scraps turn into soil. They can participate by adding the scraps, shredded paper, and yard waste, and by turning the soil with a shovel once a week. Check out [compost article] to get started.
“Reduce, reuse, and recycle” is only the beginning of what you and your kids can do to help the environment. If you want to make a greater impact, you need the ebook “Going Beyond the 3 R’s.” You’ll learn what it really takes for lasting change.
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